Your period – the one week (if you are lucky) of the month than most women dread. I’ve never met anyone who looks forward to their period and all that comes with it, i.e the pain, the cramps, the hormone swings. For some, it’s accompanied by headaches and nausea, too. We haven’t suffered enough, right?
For some women, the pain of their period is more than what a couple of paracetamol can fix. It’s more than just a day or two of bad hormones and eating all the chocolate. It’s a chronic pain condition, with no seeming end to the pain for two weeks a month. The worst thing about it is that chronic pain is often a symptom of a larger issue, so what some women think are just bad periods is actually something bigger. PCOS, something I have is one example. Endometriosis, another, is a condition where the cells that are usually found in the lining of the womb decide to toddle off to other parts of the body where they are not welcome. They’ll bleed no matter where they are in the body, which means that those with endometriosis are in severe and chronic pain.
So, how do you tell what’s normal (bearing in mind all women are different) and what’s not? How do you know what you’re feeling is just your period and not endometriosis?
- If the pain is getting in the way of your daily routine, you need to think about whether this is something that you can manage or not. Pain happens with a period, and sometimes that pain takes your breath away. However, if you’re fainting, throwing up or unable to move from the foetal position, then you need a doctor to see what’s going on.
- Your cramping is supposed to be in your stomach, lower back and possibly the tops of your legs when you have your period. Exercise, painkillers and sleep should help. With endometriosis? The pain can also be in the liver, the lungs and other areas of the abdomen that don’t involve the pelvic organs.
- Period pain is cyclical, so the week leading up to/during/after your period is usually filled with hormones, but the actual cramping is usually going to occur on the days you are physically bleeding. With endometriosis, you’re dealing with possible scar tissue which can cause pain whenever it wants to.
- Pain after sex should always be reported to a doctor, and if you have pain after regular sex, you need investigation. Endometriosis can cause this, and it may not flare just on your period but the rest of the month, too.
- Lastly, if you experience pain while you’re on the toilet, you need to speak to the doc. It may not be endometriosis-related, and it may not be period related, either. Speak to the doctor and you’ll know whether the pain you feel during your bowel movements while on your period are normal or not.
Don’t be dismissive when it comes to your period if things don’t seem right or you are experiencing more pain than expected.